Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Suprise :)

The secret is out! Baby number 3 for me and baby number 1 for the boyfriend is on its way :) As soon as this Morning Sickness/Pregnancy Exhaustion fog of the first trimester lifts I will be so excited to get started on lots of fun baby projects :) 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Projects!

So since I haven't posted much like at all this summer I thought I would send out a little post to catch you up on what I have been up to this summer. 

Aside from running my girls back and forth between playdates, fun day time activities, cheer/dance/tumble/camp/etc. I had a little time to work on some fun creative non house-y projects...take a look!

I saved myself BIG BUCKS when we went to the beach this summer by bringing our own beach toys from home...I was able to make both of my girls their very own beach bucket full of everything you would want at the beach to make an awesome sand castle...all for about 1/8 the price that these same items were being sold at the beach side stands and shops down in Padre. Just a little prep work and a quick trip to the dollar store gave them more than they could have asked for and gave me hours of peace and relaxation while we were at the beach. 

This was also our first long road trip with a was about 12 hours of driving each way (we stopped half way in San Antonio each time making four 5-6 hour long road trips) To keep the girls entertained along the way and in the hotel I got cutesy'd up some dollar store totes with some trim and fabric paint that I had on hand. Coloring books, etch-a-sketchs, books, small toys, glow sticks, and stickers filled up the bag and they were perfect to have the girls pull out when they didn't feel like sleeping or watching a movie, would you believe me when I say we drove almost 24 hours and we didn't have a single meltdown from either of my kids the entire way?!

One of the (many) volunteer activities I participate in is the elementary school's PTA. This is my first year on the Executive Board as the is a glimpse at my PTA binder...I have TONS of little tips and tricks for PTA volunteers, Room Moms and teachers Helpers that I have picked up over the last 4 years...I can't wait to share them with you!

One of my "jobs" this year as the PTA Historian is to keep up with the schools Calendar and Digital Scrapbook...two jobs that are right up my alley! Our school recently got a facelift and we changed our calendar display...I am in the process of turning this blank board in to the Curtsinger Command Center. I am really excited to have a blank canvas to work with! 

Speaking of Command Centers...I am working on mine this week...look for a VERY detailed post on my new wall calendar and command center set up coming later this week!

I feel like my whole world revolves around Calendars...and sometimes I'm ok with that! Here is a little peak at my new school year MOMager book...its incredible. and I love it and I can't wait to share it with you! I have big HUGE awesome plans on MOMager based things coming in September and I just know y'all are going to love it (Here's a little includes a bunch of freebie downloads and some super in depth posts about MOMaging!)

I know I said I worked on NON house based projects this summer but I just can't go a week without making some kind of tweak to my humble a bowed...this was in the middle of a big tweak that I am still finishing up...Sometimes you gotta make a mess to make some progress!

And lastly...I turned myself in to a project! I have turned myself in to a bit of gym rat this summer as I prepare to run my very first ever 5k this upcoming October...I've lost about 6lbs this summer....making it a total of 26lbs that I have lost in the last 18 months :) What's my secret? I bust my hiney at the gym 4-6 days a week...there is no such thing as a short cut, you get out what you put in! I also got a new more blonde for me, Its back to my regular shade of cherry brown :)

As I sit here enjoying my coffee on the last Monday of Summer Vacation its nice to look back and see some of the projects both big and small that I have accomplished in the last 13 weeks. All things considered, it was a great first summer at Oxford Place and I wouldn't have wanted to spend it anywhere else but here. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Prissy Girl Pink: A Room Fit for my Diva Girl!

We have done lots of little projects over the summer over here at Oxford Place, but this was the one I was most excited about :) 

Decorating my Mini Me's bedroom has always been my favorite room to do anytime we move...she started with a pink and green princess nursery...then a sweet french themed toddlers room....

her preschool room had pretty pink and purple stripes and a Ballerina theme...

when Kindergarten came around she was all about being a Rock Star...her room even had a real pink drum Set :) 

First grade she was way in to Skulls and Paul Frank Monkeys so we did a girly Skurvy room complete with a full chalkboard wall

Needless to say, shes been one lucky kiddo when it came to cool room styles.

But once we moved to Oxford Place I told her that the room she has going to be the room she keeps until she is out of elementary school, so she needs to pick wisely and not just go for something she loves now. 

So after some deliberation, she told me she wants something "Diva..and sparkly....and pink...but not like princess pink ok?"

I did my very best to meet all of her expectations, and I think I did a very good job:

Welcome to The Diva Den 

Don't those curtains just leave you breathless?! Would you believe me if I told you I got them for $20 from IKEA?!  The black curtains are just cheapo tab curtains from walmart...they were too short to hang all the way down, but they look stunning pulled back.

The Duvet, sheets, sparkle ribbon pillow and lamp are all from Target, the polka dot pillow is from IKEA.Her bed was my child hood bed that I spray painted a glossy about doing what you can with what you have! 

The Computer/Camera really distort the shade of pink that is on the wall...we used Valspar's Very Berry and it really was the PERFECT shade of deep magenta pink. All of the things hanging on the wall came from Garage sales...they were all the most hideous shade of brassy gold but they look incredible now after a few coats of glossy black spray paint. 

To the right of her bed, and behind her door is where all her many bags hang...Backpacks, Cheer & Dance Bags and her cutesy Summer bag that I made before we went Road Trippin' in July. They are hanging on a basic coat hook from IKEA. The Cork board was from Hobby Lobby...I bought it with a 40% off coupon then spray painted it a metallic silver; then I hot glued a white feather boa around the edges to make it a little more Glam :) The mirror is just a basic full length mirror from Walmart.

Here is a view from the other corner of the room....I am standing right next to her night stand that the lamp is sitting on, below the nightstand is a metal bucket that holds all of her stuffed animals. We painted the rest of her walls in Behrs "Classic Silver." 

This is one of my favorite spots of the whole room...I dreamt about it! I even scribbled random notes about it in my Ramblings Book. The desk is from IKEA and I put a garage sale found mirror at eye level so this area could double as a vanity. The sconces were also garage sale finds. The "Samantha" letters and crown are from Hobby Lobby.

So wanna know the big secret.....this whole room was done for less than $200....we shopped our home...made use of what we had...scoured garage sales and really used every ounce of our creative spirit to pull this room off just before school started on a next to nothing budget. And I think it came out looking like a million bucks. 

My girl is nothing if not a hard worker. She spends anywhere between 6-10 hours at the cheer gym every week and another 4-6 hours in the dance studio...add to that competitions and private School, Friends, Family, and everything else that comes in the life of a 2nd grader and she handles every single bit of it with a positive attitude, and she gives her all 110% of the time. So a room that is full of fluff and sparkle is the least that I could give to her to let her know just how proud I am of what kind of girl she is turning out to be :) 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where I'm Going: The Blog, My Etsy Store...all of it

Its so nice to be back in the bloggy world. I can't tell you how many times I would sit and think to myself this summer that "I need to blog about this!" But for those of you who are know that a single blog post can take anywhere between 45min and 3 hours to write, edit and post...and unfortunately, I just didn't have that kind of time consecutively throughout the summer. 

However, my hiatus has given me a chance to really think about what I want to do with this blog and with my store. 

When i first started blogging back in May, it was to chronical our projects in our new house...then I threw my MOMager stuff in to the mix to keep everything in one place and in a matter of days, I had created a beast...I opened the shop, did a giveaway, kept blogging...all while trying to move and get settled in plus keep up with my day to day life. And as is with most situations when you bite off more than you can choke.

And that is exactly what I did. 

There wasn't enough hours in the day...not enough of me to go around. If I was able to blog, I was being snippy to my kids, I was holed up in my office for hours at a time, not really enjoying our summer vacation. I was trying to poorly manage an etsy store that was dealing out a product that I wasn't 100% happy with on an interface that I wasn't completely comfortable with. This lead to way more apologies on my part than I wanted to hand out. 

When I introduced my MOMager System it was to make this great point that we are not all the same...and what works for me, might not work for you, the customization of the system was the key focus. And I lost that....Sending out mass produced printables was not what I wanted to do...I wanted to help people really take hold of their time and their households and truely MOMage them. I wanted them to use this system as the end all be all of planning systems and not as just another planner to throw in the pile. 

I wanted to sell you my ideas...not a one size fits all product.

If all you were looking for was a planner, I can tell you gushing, highly held, ring from the roof top reviews of both the MOM Agenda and the Erin Condrin Planner.

But if your really looking for a system that is going to work, and work for you gotta be willing to put in the effort. 

and so do I.

So that is where I am right now....I understand that people are busy, and some arn't super computer savvy and that's why they like printables...but everything I have created, is already out any color you want...with chevron pattern or polka dots. Because how hard can it be to create a week at a glance printable? 

With all that being said, the conclusion is this...the ETSY store is going to remain closed for a least until I can come up with a plan that I am proud of. One that has been poured over and edited and something that I feel really good about.

Ideally, it would be a 100% fully custom planning system for each person....but lets be honest, thats pricey...and time consuming.....but is it worth it? Would you buy that? What would you pay to have someone sit with you and pick your brain and help you find the best way to MOMage your home? $75 $100....$50 for an hour? Would you want one simple book or a full system that covers every area of your home? I'll be honest...I have 7 different binders/calendars/notebooks that I keep running to manage everything in our lives...but yours is going to be different depending on the size and stages of your family. 

I really want to let y'all explore, in as much detail as I can give, all of my planning tools and maybe you can figure out how to duplicate it...and hopefully through all of this I will find a neat and tidy way to produce a product that can be purchased for those who just don't want to DIY this project. 

I know this wasn't the news you were hoping for...but as they say:

 All Good Things Are Worth Waiting For :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm Back! Where have I been...

Hello dear friends! long time no talk! Like many of you, I have had a CRAZY busy summer...add in the "training" of a two year old to forgo her beloved "fufu" (pacifier), start sleeping in her big girl bed and the beginning stages of potty training, things got just down right insane. BUT WAIT! There is more! ha...add a 7 year old that is just doesn't know how to take a break and decided to join a summer cheer squad, as well as take summer dance classes...on top of her competitive squads twice weekly summer conditioning schedule AND Camps...and playdates...and vacations.........................................oh ya, and there is this little thing called our new house that is in the middle of about 8 different mini renos at any given time...Point being, I've barely had time for showers this summer, much less blog posting.

But I'm back now! I've got a whole bunch of posts waiting in the wings for y'all to get me through these last couple weeks of summer then I should be back to posting on a regular basis once school gets started for both my girls after labor day. 

as for now...wanna see what we have been up to this summer? its been a blast :) 

We had a super fun 4th of July in our little town square. 
Americana Dreams at their finest 
Me and my mini me 

My girls posing on one of the old fire trucks
My silly girl enjoying some ice cream while we waited for the firework show

Then We Went on a Texas Road Trip!
First Stop! Texas Hill Country!

We stayed at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa...the girls had a blast "toobing" the lazy river 
While I relaxed with a few magazines and some adult beverages :) 

We even had a chance to make smores by the campfire! 

Next Stop...San Antonio, Texas! Here we are in front of the Alamo.
We took a night time boat ride through the riverwalk.

Then we made it to the coast in South Padre Island for some fun in the sun! 

We stayed at The Pearl South Padre...what a view! 

Oh ya...and we snuck in a cheer competition while we were in Padre...that's my girl at the top of the pyramid!

Her Summer Squad did a great job and came home with a Silver medal and High point plaque!

And now we are back! 

we have spent the last couple weeks going through dance auditions, figuring out fall schedules, and getting ready for back to school.

I have also been SUPER busy on house projects and I can't wait to show them all to y'all!

I know many of y'all have been wondering what is going on with my ETSY store...I'll explain it all tomorrow, I have lots of explinations as to "where I'm going" with this whole blog thing coming at y'all first thing tomorrow....and later this week I'll show you what projects I've been working on this summer :) 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Budgeting 101 : How I MOMage My Day to Day Expenses

I have had a TON of questions asking me to share how I organize my finances and I've been putting this post off for a while, mainly because the way I organize my finances is not necessarily a "one size fits all" kind of solution like my file planner system is. That point aside, this way of managing money is another one of those big-lightbulb-over-the-head-life-changing-sanity-saving kind of things. 

Lets first start this out with me stating this: I'm broke :) 

No seriously, we live on a very tight budget with little room for extravagance or errors. I have a REALLY hard time managing money...I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very financially comfortable home where money was never discussed and I really didn't understand that there was a "Bottom of the pot." Let me tell you what a giant shocker it was that first time I reached my own "bottom of the pot" ..... and my electricity & water got shut off....not because I was living beyond my means, but because my financial management skills were just plain awful. I had no idea how to prioritize my expenses and I would constantly talk myself in to purchasing things I didn't have money for with ridiculous justifications. When the BF and I moved in together, Money was a hot topic for us (as well as the source of our first argument) as goes the typical relationship standards: hes a saver, I'm a can see how this can be hard for someone like me who pretty much never heard the words "no." After one too many arguments about money, and one too many times of having to ask to be bailed out we decided something needed to change because these money fights were getting pretty brutal. So last year when we got our tax return in, instead of doing what we had done every other year (Take a new furniture...go on a shopping spree... basically live like kings for 6 weeks until the money ran out and we were back to living like paupers) we decided to do something different: We saved the money. By saving our tax return money we were able to completely revamp our household budget. We both wanted a feeling of control over the money so we decided the best way to split things up was for the BF to manage the Bills (Mortgage, utilities, car payments, etc) and I would Manage the day to day expenses (Groceries, Gas, Lunch money, Clothing, etc) 

This system has totally changed our outlook on money. We stopped fighting. Bills were paid on time. I felt like I had freedom to spend my money at my own discretion without having to ask permission (which would then make me feel resentment towards him) And he got to pay the bills in a timely manner and allocate the money to paying off debt however he wanted to. 

Now I'm not saying you need to have a sit down with your hubs and say "your paying all the bills and I'm keepin my paycheck" but maybe you sit down and figure out how to manage your money best...Maybe your the "saver" and you like to pay bills and your man is the one who buys groceries and fills the cars up with gas. To each their own. 

The key to making this system work is that you mustn't meddle in each others financial long as you are both upholding your end of the bargain, then how it is handled is not on the table for argument or discussion. Another key element: you have to give yourself realistic expectations. Yes I would absolutely love to feed my family of 4 on $100 every week but that's just not happening and having to keep to those kinds of boundaries full time would put a lot of unnecessary hardship on me (This is not saying that it can't be done...there was a time when I was young momma and just getting started and I remember thinking we were doin' pretty darn good if we had a full $60 to spend on groceries for the week) Take a look at your family budget and figure out just how much you want to dedicate to "day to day expenses" also decide what you consider to be "day to day expenses" Is getting the oil changed part of your money or his? What about paying for date night? TALK THESE THINGS OUT AHEAD OF TIME!!!

Once you settle on a number for the day to day expenses for a month, head to the bank....and take out that amount of money ( might not be able to do this right away, having that kind of back up cash or up front money isn't always possible, you could certainly make this system work for you if you break it down to weekly increments until you are able to grab a big windfall check around tax or bonus time) 

I always leave $40 in my bank account on the rare occasion that I have to send a $12 check to school for picture day or what not or if for some strange reason my bank decides to charge me a random fee....this is my NSF buffer money.

Then I do something silly....I tell the bank teller to give me the full amount in 20's except for $100...and to give me the $100 in $5's and $10's.............she gives me a crazy look then hands the cash over. and I'm out the door and done with my banking for the month.

Once I get home I sort out my money in another one of those silly ways...I separate the $20's in to piles of $100, then the $10s, then $5s.......After figuring out how many weeks are in this month (typically 4) I start dividing the money evenly in to 4 separate piles....placing the "remainder" money in to a 5th pile (for example, if I had $60 in $10's...I would put 1 $10 in each of the 4 piles, then the "extra" 2 $10's would go in the fifth pile...get it?) Once my money is evenly divided I count it all up. This 5th pile is my Stash....Through the month, its not to be touched unless its for an emergency...but If I can make it through the month without needing it I get to put it towards a treat :) Knowing the money is there if I need it is great for piece of mind, but its even better knowing that if I DON'T need it, I can get a new out fit or go out for an extra nice dinner at the end of the month. 

As for the 4 piles of weekly money...they get put in to individual envelopes that are placed inside each weeks planning folder.This also keeps me from spending impulsively, or digging in to next weeks money because its all the way back home.

Wanna add weekly money envelopes to your file folder planning system? Check back next week for a tutorial on how I make mine :) 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cherry Cheesecake Dip **a cross post from my old blog**

Have you ever thrown something out in to the world, only to come back a few months later and realize its kinda big time now?

have you seen this pic floating around pinterest?

yup...that grainy iphone pic was curtosy of yours truely late one evening before my daughters school pot luck. I posted it to my old blog a few months back and silly me, I forgot the log in to the email account that was attached to that blog. Lost forever in the interwebz I figured I would just sit there and watch it show up on my pintrest feed and think "HEY! That's my unmanicured hand scoopin up that yummy quick dip!" But I was finally able to get in to the blog, and redirect everyone back over here (I can't believe I'm going to say this...but this single post on that blog, was getting an average of 2000 views DAILY....gee thanks pinterest)

So for those of you who haven't yet seen it, and maybe your looking for something quick and yummy to take to a 4th of July Picnic next week I give you:

My Cherry Cheesecake Dip

that's all your going to need! Just 2 tubs of cool whip, a tub of marshmallow fluff, a softened block of cream cheese, a box of graham crackers and 2 cans of cherry pie filling...this will be enough to fill 2 8x8pans or one  8x12.

Crush one sleeve of your graham crackers and evenly distribute them in  your pans, do not pack them in to the pan. 

In a large bowl, mix your fluff, both tubs of cool whip and your cream cheese VERY don't want a big bite of fluff or cream cheese with this...the secret to this tasting just right and not taking forever to make is making sure the cream cheese is reeaaaallllllyyyy soft when you start to work with it.

Once you have everything mixed together (and you've tasted it to make sure its just right (if its a little too sweet you can add more cream cheese if you have it on hand, if its too cream chees-y add a little powedered sugar, but keep in mind the cherries will add another level of flavor) Take a clean spoon or spatula and GENTLY spread these in to the pans, work from the inside out, making sure you are spreading large amounts of filling at a time. Take your time with this step, otherwise your going to end up mixing your cracker crumbs in to your filling.

Next empty a full can of cherry pie preserves on to each dish and your all done! Break your leftover crackers up in to fourths and start dippin!

This is one of my tried and true, go to dishes...You can take it to a brunch or a birthday party or teacher luncheon! its super yummy, so easy, and it keeps well in the fridge for 2 days so you can make it ahead of time if you have a big event coming up! 

Another MOMager approved dish for sure! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

My organized Craft Storage

I'll be the first to admit that I don't craft nearly as much as I would like to. But there are certain times of the year (Christmas, My girls bdays & Cheer Season) that I find myself stocking up on paint, glitter and other craft accessories. Over time my little collection has been stored in many different closets, in under bed containers, in 500 different small plastic bins...I've tried quite a few different solutions, but last year I finally found something that worked.

In the office of my cute little rental I had a small IKEA Malm dresser in my office that I used to hold all of my craft supplies, everything was easily accesible, the drawers were large enough to hold most of my supplies and the piece worked well as another flat surface to use when crafting (if your a crafter, you know the llittle dance you do when you are trying to find a space to allow your works to dry or cure without invading your current work space)

So when we moved here, and my oldest daughter said she would rather use a cube style dresser than her standard white one, I decided I would take over her white one and use it for my crafts again. Lets go for a little tour of the drawers shall we :)

The top drawer holds all the messy stuff...its out of my 2 year olds reach for very very good reason :) in here I have my paints (seperated by fabric or craft...the ones that are laying on their side are small cans of spray glitter) these are stored in an IKEA fabric drawer can buy these in packs of 10 and they come in various sizes, the largest bin in the set is being used to hold my paints in this picture. to the right I have my stamping supplies, fabric flowers, pony beeds, small craft accesories (brads and gem stones) as well as all of my glitter...this storage box came from target a couple years ago, unfortunatly I don't know what brand it is and I'm not even posititve if its still in production, I bought this and the "mini dresser" on top of my craft dresser on clearance. I used the open space to hold rolls of tape and vinyl.

The next drawer is a bit difficult to see, but this gives you a better idea of the cloth organizing cubes..the back left cube is holding all of my "cheer crafts" ( needs its own bin lol) to the right of that is my cricut things, and then on the far right is all of my liquid adhesives (modge podge, spray adhesive, tacky glue, etc) the front left bin holds all of my glue guns and sticks and next to that is a box holding "projects in progress" (I know I'm not the only one with a half finished project or 10 laying around the house)

 The third and forth drawer hold my fabric, sewing notions, trim, ribbon and spools of tulle....I'm not really big in to sewing (i'm a "straight line seamstress" if you know what I mean) but there was a time many moons ago that I had a craft fair booth at a local trade fair and i sold tutus, hairbows, and little girls boutique style clothes. a lot of this is run off from those days. 
And lastly, my bottom drawer holds some fiberfill bags, sewing paterns, and large pieces of fabric that I used for backings of big sewing projects.

My craft table has all of my machines plugged in and ready for use, that is a Xyron on the left, my cricut and my sewing machine....nothing fancy. and like I said earlier, all of my scrapbooking stuff is stowed in that green rolling tote under the desk, I am still in search of the "right way" to organize all of that stuff. 

My last little box is the small white box on top of my filing cabinet...I bought this at target along with the other two white organizing boxes. this holds all of my tapes, glue sticks, extra blades, and small crafting tools. 

I'm dreaming up solutions for my scrappin' stuff as we speak...I've taken on the GIANT task of putting together my daughters school scrapbook for next year so I am going to need all of that stuff to be well organized and easily accessible. Can't wait to show y'all what I come up with :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The MOMager Cooks! Crock Pot Chicken Fajita Burritos and Cheesy Mexican Rice

I am a Texas girl through and through. So aside from sweet tea, big steaks, and good BBQ, I absolutely L.O.V.E good Mexican Food. 

Now let me clarify...What I actually love is good TEX-MEX. Like enchiladas and tacos and queso and refried beans and fajitas and all that lard laden, deep fried, gooey, melty, bad for you goodness.

If its ever left up to me to pick where we are going for dinner, I can assure you, I'm going to pick Mexican food. (if you are ever in the DFW area and are in search of some darn good texmex food...hit me up and I'll point you in the right directions!)

Well when I came across these pins on Pinterest:



I just knew I had to give them a try! 

I made a couple changes to her recipe since I knew I was going to be making burritos so I wanted this to be a very moist meat. I added more chicken broth, more onions & a small can of diced green chilies 
after it cooked on high for about 4 hours I removed it from the crockpot and shredded the meat, once it was sheredded, I added a little more of the cooking liquid to the meat mixture for added flavor and moisture. 
While the chicken finished up, I made the cheesy mexican rice (I followed that recipe to a tee) 

I laid out all of my favorite burrito fixins: Tortillas (I really wished I would have had some fresh bought just doesn't do it for me) Cilantro, Pico de gallo, Guacamole (excuse the big bite out of the guac...dinner was running a little late and momma was hungry LOL) extra lime juice, tortilla chips for snacking and some shredded cheese. (I also had some sour cream but I forgot to put it out with the other stuff)

After heating the tortillas under a moist paper towel in the microwave for about 45 seconds I started adding all the goodies to this monster burrito...I even decided to throw the cheesy Mexican rice in to the mix. then with a final sprinkle of cheese and cilantro it was ready to eat!

It was SO good. and VERY filling (the boyfriend and I both agreed that we should have made smaller burritos since we couldn't finish a whole one) The only change I would make next time is to put a little less rotel in to the rice and add some corn (traditional texmex style rice typically has corn in it) and I would have liked some boracho beans either inside the burrito or atleast on the side.

Other than that, it was a winner! The chicken recipe is a keeper for sure, I'm not one to pick chicken when it comes to mexican fair, but this stuff was gooooood. Next time I might even add about half a bottle of mexican beer to the crock pot for another layer of flavor.

Either way. I call this recipe, MOMager Approved :)